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Winless Sri Lanka need seniors to step up

Wisden India Wisden India 28/12/2015 Wisden India staff

Sri Lanka have been winless on their tour of New Zealand so far and they will be desperate to turn that around when the two sides face off in the second One-Day International on Monday (December 28) at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

New Zealand start favourites despite missing several key players for the second ODI against Sri Lanka. © AFP © Provided by Wisden New Zealand start favourites despite missing several key players for the second ODI against Sri Lanka. © AFP

Sri Lanka are missing several key players and need seniors such as Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dinesh Chandimal, the wicketkeeper, and Lahiru Thirimanne to step up.

Perhaps the most telling blow has been the patchy form of Angelo Mathews. But for his 77 in the second innings of the second Test, Mathews, the captain, has hardly made an impact with bat or ball. As a side in transition, Sri Lanka are still heavily reliant on him. In the first ODI, which they lost by seven wickets, Mathews was dismissed for a first-ball duck, while the likes of Thirimanne and Chandimal too did little of note.

Batting has been a major area of concern for Sri Lanka in the post-Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene era. Getting bowled out for 188 on a belter was a harsh reminder of that fact. The bowling has been inconsistent as well. They had no answer to a rampaging Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, and Martin Guptill, as New Zealand wrapped up the chase of 189 in 21 overs.

However, the team can take heart from the all-round performance of Milinda Siriwardana, who soaked in the pressure and lifted them from 27 for 5, to give the bowlers something to defend. He later returned to take two wickets, dismissing both Guptill and McCullum.

Siriwardana was aided in his fight in the first ODI by Nuwan Kulasekara, who made 58 and added 98 runs for the seventh wicket. While his ability with the bat is known, Sri Lanka will expect more from Kulasekara with the ball.

Sri Lanka used three spinners in the last match. While Ajantha Mendis was the lone specialist tweaker, they also used Siriwardana and Dilshan for their left-arm spin and off-spin respectively. But the conditions in New Zealand mean the likes of Kulasekara, Dushmantha Chameera and Suranga Lakmal will be under the scanner, especially in the absence of Lasith Malinga, the pacer, who is spending time on the sidelines owing to a knee injury.

New Zealand are also missing several big names, with Corey Anderson, James Neesham and Grant Elliott out with injuries, while Trent Boult and Tim Southee, their two strike bowlers, have been rested for the initial half of the series. Kane Williamson's availability is still under a cloud and he is expected to be assessed on the day of the match. But despite this, the hosts still have enough firepower to be dangerous.

The in-form Guptill and the ever-explosive McCullum make for a deadly combine at the top of the order, while the middle order has the experienced Ross Taylor.

New Zealand's pace battery is also strong. In Adam Milne, they have an out-and-out fast bowler, while Matt Henry – who was Player of the Match in the first ODI for his four-wicket burst – Doug Bracewell and Mitchell McClenaghan are all fresh off strong performances.

These are still early days in the ODI series, with three games to go after Monday. But with Sri Lanka having conceded the Test series 2-0 and started off the limited overs leg in the manner they did, they need a win soon to regain confidence and restore their campaign. New Zealand, on the other hand, will once again look to keep the juggernaut rolling.

Teams (from):

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (capt), Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, George Worker, Mitchell Santner, Luke Ronchi (wk), Doug Bracewell, Adam Milne, Ish Sodhi, Mitchell McClenaghan, Matt Henry, Tom Latham.

Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Danushka Gunathilaka , Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Angelo Mathews (capt), Milinda Siriwardana, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Sachithra Senanayake, Dushmantha Chameera, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Chamara Kapugedara, Jeffery Vandersay.

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